Working as a birth photographer is one of the most rewarding jobs you could have. Leilani Rogers was hooked after photographing her first birth in 2011. Sixty births later, she is still documenting the miraculous moment.
"I sincerely hope that these photos normalise birth – show that is isn't 'gross'. There are people in this world who won't even subject themselves to discussing birth, let alone viewing images of it. Some of those people will likely comment on this article! But I don't see how anyone can deny that these raw images portray birth as the miraculous occasion that it can be.
"It doesn't matter if you birth at home, in a birth centre, in a hospital, vaginally, or by C-section. Birth is birth! We all work hard to bring our babies into this world. And we all love them with every fiber of our being! Most importantly, in the end we all hold the same divine position as 'mother'." – Leilani Rogers
Here Rogers tells BuzzFeed the stories behind some of her favourite births.
"It's an honour to celebrate families of all kinds. This family's birth was so beautiful. And it was so fortunate that this mother's partner is an experienced doula, because she was in labour for 35 hours."
"Breastfeeding support has a special place in my heart. That is why I founded The Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project. Breastfeeding success starts here though. At birth. So moms just don't get the patient instruction they need in order to be successful at breastfeeding. Plus I just love the juxtaposition of this experienced midwife's hands against this young mother and newborn babe's skin.
"I see a lot of waterbirths. But birth tubs take some time to blow up, and fill. Every now and then, birth happens so quickly there is no time to go through that process! In this case Mama knew she needed water, so she gave birth in her bathtub. And I photographed it from inside the shower stall, looking through the glass."
"Another beautiful hospital moment. It wasn't until after I got home and began editing images that I noticed this little one's 'peace' signal."
"I photograph a lot of births at home and in birth centres. Some might say they are more photo-worthy. I disagree. This moment, for instance, is mesmerising. Baby is passing between the womb and her mother. I love the way Mom is reaching for her child, eagerly awaiting her placement in her arms."
"This image means so much to me. This is my niece just a few minutes old. Her birth was so tranquil. And this was such a heavenly moment. She came quietly and peacefully into this world and took her time opening her big, beautiful eyes to take in her new surroundings. "
"I love images that show that a woman can birth in many different positions. They should not be limited to their backs. That defies gravity, does it not? Case in point, many times a change in position will facilitate a stalled labor."
"I often lose my breath as I document mothers reaching for their babies and bringing them to their chests after a water birth. And each time I come back to those images, I lose my breath all over again. The joy, relief, and exhaustion is just so palpable."
"Capturing a baby born entirely in the amniotic sac ('en caul') was probably the most defining moment for me as a birth photographer. It cemented my love for this niche, promising me that I would see many more amazing moments like this. I cannot imagine, if it were my birth, not having an image of that moment to remember it by. So it is without a doubt my "hire a birth photographer!" incentive. Because no cell phone picture would have done this justice. The conditions of that birth weren’t ideal; it was dark, the room was tiny, and there were a lot of birth workers present whose job was much more important than mine. But I managed to capture, with one fast click, this miraculous moment. I didn’t even take the time to see it with my own eyes! Going through the images later that evening was the first time I truly laid eyes on what I had captured. And I began to cry, because it was so beautiful and so rare, and I felt so blessed to have witnessed it, even if only through my lens."
"Floral and herbal baths are my absolute favourite to capture. Not many mothers know about them. Herbal baths are done anywhere from a few hours post partum to a day or two later, and aid in healing the perineum. They also smell divine (herbs like chamomile and lavender are used) and promote bonding between mother and baby. Furthermore, babies enjoy returning to a familiar environment."
"What a privilege it is to get up close to placentas and umbilical cords. They are fascinating and serve an amazing purpose. I included the placenta because most moms have no idea what one looks like. That baffles me! We should take interest in these things because this amazing organ delivers nutrients, eliminates waste, fights against internal infection, and produces enough hormones to support an entire pregnancy."
"This was my first C-section. I’ve had many clients end up with C-sections and not been allowed to accompany them back to the OR. So this moment is one I had waited a long time for! It was a ‘pinch me’ kind of experience even as I was documenting it. I am often asked if it bothers me to see the surgical side of birth. It truly does not. I find those moments of delivery to be every bit as beautiful and fascinating as a vaginal birth."
"This was a beautiful birth filled with questions and love and wonder. The pictures capture all that and more. My client’s 7-year-old daughter is providing pressure to her mother’s lower back. She so calmly and sweetly came into the room where her mother was birthing and genuinely wanted to help. Later her mother told me how comforting it was to have her there, and how much she admired the nurturing nature her daughter possessed.”
"Polydactyl is a rare occurrence – a baby born with six fingers! Definitely a surprise to Mama and the birth team, but a special one. There was no bone in the finger, but it had a nail! It was intriguing, to say the least."
"This image has gone viral on Pinterest, and I think it's because dads are so rarely captured as part of the process. Here a husband is praying for his wife during her labour."